If there’s one thing I want my writing to be, it’s truthful. Sometimes the truth is nice and encouraging and inspirational. But sometimes it’s hard and difficult and messy. I should probably warn you that there might be some truth of the messy variety ahead.
“A righteous man falls seven times and rises again.” Proverbs 24:16
This verse just might define my life more than any other.
And I don’t mean the righteous part; I mean the falling down repeatedly part.
The only verse that could possibly be more fitting for me is Romans 5:20, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Yes, I’m that messed-up. And being messed-up, I have a tendency to…well, mess up.
I recently lapsed into a period of chronic messing up. It started with distraction, which drifted into misplaced priorities, which soon became apathy and then neglect of my relationship with God, which opened the door for the full resurrection of my flesh.
Yes, I was backsliding. I didn’t mean to. Most things seemed fine on the outside. I was going through the motions, and I had everyone fooled – myself included. But deep inside, in the place no one else can see and the place I wasn’t interested in paying much attention to, I knew the sad truth:
there was distance between me and the One I love most.
And it didn’t take long before I actually started to forget what that love feels like. I traded the delight of intense, soul-wrenching passion toward the Lover of my soul for cheap, plastic imitations because I forgot what a divine encounter feels like.
During one of the most difficult times of my life, rather than basking in the bliss of peaceful communion in the arms of my Father, I chose to self-medicate by escaping into mindless entertainment because I forgot what His divine peace feels like.
You see, I have a very short memory. I’m not all that different from the complaining Israelites who acted like they had never seen with their own eyes God parting the Red Sea for them. Like them, I’m “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”
It would be easier to excuse if this was the first time that’s ever happened.
But it’s not.
It’s also not the second, third, or fourth time I’ve messed up.
And sometimes, when I’m still in the mess, but I’m finally starting to acknowledge the mess, and I desperately want to get out of the mess, it seems like an impossible task. Like messing up is what characterizes my life. Like my messes define me, and will always chase me down like a rabid dog after its prey.
But then, God whispers this verse to my spirit in such a sweet and precious way…in a way that conveys His boundless mercy and His limitless love:
“Beloved daughter! A righteous woman falls seven times and rises again.”
It blows me away that He tells me this while I’m still in the mess.
What grace! What beautiful, tender grace!
And it’s just what I need. Right smack dab in the middle of a mess, I need to be reminded that righteousness is not about self-striving perfection. It’s about Christ-clothed sinners seeing every fall as a divine invitation to rise again.
Are you in the middle of a mess? I pray this verse encourages your heart like it does mine.
You don’t have to stay in the mess! Even better, God isn’t finished with you. He hasn’t given up on you!
As long as there is breath, there is hope for renewal and restoration of your relationship with your Savior.
Let the Lover of your soul love you back to Himself.
Take the strong hand He’s extending to you, and rise again!
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